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SANCTUARY, RIGHT OF

The claim to protection for those fleeing from justice or persecution. THe right of sanctuary was based on the inviolability attached to sacred things. Although generally confined to a church, it was later extended to the surrounding precincts. There was often a large ring or knocker on the church door, the holding of which gave a person the right of assylum. The privilege did not apply to sacrilege or high treason.

All items in this dictionary are from Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary, © Eternal Life. Used with permission.

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